If you and your spouse have concluded that it would be best to stop living together, but you are not yet ready to get a divorce, a legal separation may be a feasible option. While a legal separation may be beneficial in many ways, there are also some critical disadvantages you should consider before entering a separation agreement.
What Is a Legal Separation?
A legal separation is a step before a divorce. A legal separation enables a spouse to move out of the marital home and live separately while still being legally married on paper. A legal separation requires a written agreement by both spouses addressing matters such as child support, parenting schedules, and alimony, if applicable.
A legal separation can be canceled by both spouses at any time if they wish to resume their marriage. Likewise, a legal separation can later be converted into a divorce if the parties want to end their relationship permanently.
How Long Does a Legal Separation Last?
A legal separation can last indefinitely, as long as both spouses still wish to remain separated and reside apart. During that period, you and your spouse are expected to comply with the terms of your separation agreement.
It is worth noting that for a separation agreement to count as a basis for a divorce, you and your spouse must have been legally separated for at least a year before the date when you file for divorce.
What Are the Disadvantages of a Legal Separation?
While a legal separation may provide you the space and breathing room to decide whether you wish to get a divorce or try and reconcile with your spouse, there are a few key disadvantages you need to be aware of before getting a separation. First, you are still legally married to your spouse. That means you still have financial and legal ties to your spouse and may not marry another person without getting divorced first.
Second, you must wait a year before using your separation agreement in a divorce. If you wish to end your ties to your spouse quicker, a legal separation may not be suitable for you. Finally, couples with a history of disagreements or domestic violence cases would likely be better off getting a divorce. Always consult an attorney before making a legal decision about your marriage.
How Can an Attorney Help Me Decide Between a Separation and a Divorce?
Ending your relationship is an emotionally stressful situation. An attorney can help you keep a clear mind by analyzing your case and providing legal counsel based on their previous experiences and knowledge of laws. Speaking to a divorce attorney is always recommended, even if you are simply looking for answers to your questions.